Thursday, December 14, 2017

How to Build a More Resilient Power Grid

After Superstorm Sandy hit New York City in October 2012, the city's famous skyline was mostly dark. (Photo Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz) Click to Enlarge.
Abi-Samra has more than 35 years of experience in power generation, transmission, distribution, retail, and end-use energy applications.  He is president of Electric Power & Energy Consulting and an adjunct professor with UC San Diego.  He also is the author of a new book Power Grid Resiliency for Adverse Conditions (Artech House, 2017).

The book is part technical reference guide and part history lesson.  In it, Abi-Samra describes the impacts of heat waves, ice storms, and hurricanes on grid operations through case studies from North America, Europe, and Asia.
Synchophasors measure the instantaneous voltage, current, and frequency at specific locations on the grid, offering operators a near-real-time picture of what’s happening on the system, which lets them take action to prevent power outages.

Load shedding involves the short-term interruption of power to one or more end users to allow the grid to rebalance itself.  Many industrial-scale power users trade off the occasional loss of power for lower power prices, known as “interruptible rates.”

The early 2000s were also marked by hurricanes that hit Florida and Louisiana particularly hard.  Widespread loss of transmission and distribution poles led to efforts to replace wooden poles with steel and concrete.  Further hardening came after Hurricane Katrina devastated substations, leading to investments to elevate them above storm surge levels.

Superstorm Sandy in 2012 exposed storm vulnerabilities in the Northeast, particularly the near-impossibility of insulating a system from damage in the face of fearsome winds and flooding.

The idea that resulted from Sandy was to “allow the system to fail, but in such a way that it could quickly recover,” Abi-Samra says.  This illustrates another lesson:  Efforts intended merely to harden infrastructure are not enough—the grid also needs to be resilient.

Hardening and resiliency are different concepts, Abi-Samra says.  Resiliency refers to characteristics of the infrastructure and operations such as strength and the ability to make a fast recovery, which help utilities minimize or altogether avoid disruptions during and after an extreme weather event.

Read more at How to Build a More Resilient Power Grid

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